Category Archives: Purely Personal

Sampson the Draft Dog

Sampson has been happily wearing a back pack for months now when we go on hikes.

fall hike 023

It’s a Ruffwear Palisades pack. We love this pack. The packs are removable and what’s left is a decent, comfy, well-fitting harness.

W’e’ve known for a while that Sampson is a good candidate for doing draft work. We don’t have the proper harness yet, but for his first pulling, the back pack harness was sufficient.

We just had a wicked storm and the wind was blowing very hard for over 24 hours. There were a lot of trees down along the trail in our woods. THat won’t do since soon we’ll be skiing back there and until then this is where we walk the dog.

Here’s one spot where there were over 6 trees down. Many of them came up by their roots. That’s what you’re seeing with the arrows on the right – root beds.The ones on the left are across the trail. As usual, it was a friggin poplar that came down but took a nice spruce and another tree along with it.

binghamton and trail work at home 008 (Small)

About 20 feet up the trail were two more big trees across the trail.

Sampson and down trees

Rich needed to bring his chainsaw and other tools back there. Finally he has a little assistance!

first time puling

Sampson didn’t mind it a bit. He barely seemed to notice. He’s a natural!

samspon ready to go

On the way back, I was the brake-man, using an extra bungee cord to be sure the sled didn’t slide right into our baby’s behind.

Just a caveat about the sled, rope, harness setup. This is far from optimal. The rope was rubbing against his sides a bit but it was a short walk in the woods today.

The proper drafting harness protects the dog much more and the weight attaches behind him. Here’s an example: We actually have a harness that says it’s X-L and it is much too small so we have to get another.

Memorial to a tree – yes, a tree

Five years ago, I wrote this blog post about a tree on our property.

I see this tree all day long while I’m working. This tree is like the ocean. In the summer when it is full green and the wind is blowing, it is absolutely mesmerizing to watch it. I have never loved a tree before, but I love this tree.

Two summers later, I was on the phone during a thunderstorm, with Don Smith from Microsoft’s Patterns and Practices group (who is sure to remember this incident), when lightning struck our house. The next day, I discovered that it had also struck the tree.

Over the next few years, half of the tree was clearly dead. This past summer, the other half succumbed as well. We knew it was a goner but even barren, it was still beautiful. However, it had become a liability because, though the tree was might and strong even when dead, its huge branches were coming down when we had big winds.

So today, Rich finally did the deed and cut the tree down. It’s funny to be sad about a tree. And i will provide a LOT of fuel for us since we are getting a wood stove soon. But still, it was a thing of beauty.

And deserving of one last blog post.

Lost Newfie (dog) in Bedford Mass

There’s an alert out from a heart broken person who’s 5 year old Newfie disappeared.

It’s possible that the dog was stolen and I’m just helping get the word out.


She is a 5 yr old  black newfie with a very tiny spot of white hair on the top of her head – about 10-20 hairs. Her name is baby  She is a near sighted vision dog and has only been away from home before this sunday  only 3 days in her life.

I have the contact info of the owner.

Cheer up!

Okay, I have depressed way too many people in sharing the sad news about having to put both Tasha and Daisy to sleep in the past week.

Here’s how I cheer myself up though, by walking around my house and admiring all of the new life.

The peonies are getting ready to pop!
garden 002

The Rhodedenrons were amazing when I got home and still are. This picture does not do justice to how spectacular they truly are and how much they are glowing. It’s supposed to rain today so that might take them out since the petals are already starting to drop.rhodies

This, one of a number of Clematis, is growing like crazy.
garden 006

This is a corner of the field. I cannot figure out how to take a picture of 2 acres of Lupine with some phlox mingled 010

The glam irisies are opening and the siberians are just getting started.irises sibirises

Columbine in many colors.

Something we can’t believe survives through our winters, a Japanese 015

And the last few pansies waiting to get put into 016  

Hope that helps!

Sad news

For those of you who have read my blog for a long time, you have seen me write about and post pictures of my Newfoundland dogs Tasha and Daisy. For those of you who know me, I’m one of those “wierd dog people” – they are more than pets to me, way more.

On Sunday as I was about to head to the airport for TEchEd, I got a call from the place where I had boarded Tasha, the 14 1/2 year old (very very old for a Newfie). SHe had taken a very bad turn overnight – I think gave up her raison d’etre because I had left her there. I rescheduled my flight and RIch and I went to be with her and knew it was time, so we put her to sleep. She devoured a startling amount of cookies and turkey jerkey in her last minutes and right up to the last moment, was scrounging around the floor for crumbs, which gave us a needed laugh. I think she was trying to disprove the theory that you can’t take it with you. And the fact that she was very busy eating was a nice reminder that she wasn’t upset or worried – well, just worried about not being able to get cookies any more.

I went to TechEd early on Tuesday morning, leaving behind our other very old (13 1/2) girl, Daisy who was very depressed about Tasha and not eating. Daisy has had a problem with her esophagus passage shrinking and over the past few months this has caused her some big trouble a few times. Rich did an amazing job with her while I was gone, putting food in the blender, soaking it a lot, discovering that she is a big fan of Ensure. I got home very late on Thursday night. She had a very bad day and a very very bad night on Friday. SO yesterday, knowing that this wasn’t something that could be fixed, we made the difficult decision (moreso because we had just put Tasha down) to let her go as well.

The decision was a no brainer for each dog, but especially difficult for me becasue I was so close to them and I lost them both within one week. And of course, I’m feeling very sorry for myself missing my girls and being in a suddenly very empty and quiet house.

But this isn’t a tragedy. The dogs had amazingly long lives and great ones and we were really lucky to have them with us for so long. It’s just sad to lose your friends, as we all know.

A good cure, of course is a new puppy (and one of my mom’s males sired a litter of 8 that was just born yesterday — only  few hours after saying goodbye to Daisy), but since we have been nursing these old dogs for a number of years, we’ve decided to take a little break before we jump in again. We’ll see how long that promise lasts, though! 🙂

I’m going to leave the comments off of this post.

Funny surprise in this weeks The New Yorker

It was already enough that The New Yorker had short stories by Annie Proulx AND Vladimir Nabokov, but reading through the Talk of the Town, there was an essay about the staff of Archaeologist magazine discussing the latest Indiana Jones movie and there was my old friend Ken Feisel, who is the Design Director for that magazine and who I worked with when we were kids a million years ago at Playboy. At the time he was the artistic director for the advertising department and I was in the media research department. I still attribute one of my favorite quotes (I added my own twist to it though) to him. We lost touch after I moved out of NYC in 1991, but have reconnected a few times since.  Since I have always said “I may be a geek, but I”m not a nerd”, I got a big laugh when the essay ended with Ken calling his co-workers nerds.

Help the Case Foundation pick it’s $25,000 community award grant winners!

FrontPorchForum, a local, very innovative community website that started here in the Burlington area, has made the cut from 5,000 community organizations to be on the shortlist of 20 to possibly win a $25,000 grant from the Case Foundation. Case Foundation will aware these grants to 5 organizations based on public voting.

So you can vote for 5 of the last 20 organizations on the list. I went to the site on behalf of FPF and was happy to see an organization from my home town (Syracuse, NY) on the list and was able to vote for them as well. Even if you don’t find a local organization on the list of 20, there will surely be at least 5 that inspire you. So go help them out and vote!

If you like good old-fashioned Jewish humor…

…then this piece, Screams, in the current New Yorker is for you. Be a fly on the wall when a bunch of old Jewish comedians gather to celebrate a book of their caricatures..

The Milton Berle Room at the Friars Club was the scene the other day of a party for Drew Friedman’s “More Old Jewish Comedians,” a sequel to “Old Jewish Comedians,” collected caricatures of such revered icons, now gone, as Myron Cohen, Groucho, Buddy Hackett, Burns, Benny, et al., along with Friars present and still carrying on. [more…]

Warning Label: Reading this article while consuming liquids may cause said liquids to eject from your nostrils.